Education Liberty versus School Choice

Our friends at Nevada Homeschool Network were forced to aggressively defend their homeschool law in 2015 when School Choice advocates attempted to use it as the vehicle for Education Savings Accounts (ESAs).  They fought for many years to remove onerous homeschool regulations in Nevada, so they now must protect the liberty they have gained.  

They have done extensive research about ESAs (in Indiana we are seeing them called Education Scholarship Accounts or Education Option Accounts.)  They are education subsidies that are accompanied by regulation.  We have asked if we could share their research. They issues they raise in Nevada are applicable in Indiana.

As the 2017 Nevada Legislative session approaches, homeschool parents and advocates must stay engaged in the debate over “government funded school choice” and the impact on homeschool freedom; Education Liberty, or #EdLiberty for short.
We must understand and proclaim the Biblical truth that ALL parents are ultimately responsible for the education of their own children, not the state.  But when private schools/parents accept “state funding” the government takes control, not the parent!

1/23/2017 – Question:  Why shouldn’t NV Legislator’s regulate self-funded homeschooling if they vote for funding the ESA program that does come under government control?

Answer:  Parents have the fundamental right to direct the health, education, and welfare of the child which is upheld in Nevada statute, case law and by the US Supreme Court. Homeschool parents in Nevada who do not accept taxpayer funding have the ultimate right and responsibility to ensure that their children are educated within the framework of the child’s age and abilities, as determined by the parent. However, the court may intercede in the event of “education neglect” as allowed in NV statute. So, in Nevada the “best interest” of a child who is homeschooled is determined by their parents or guardians, not the government, which is in line with the views of delegates to the 1884 writing of the Nevada Constitution and upheld by the Nevada Supreme Court.

Blog Update:  January 22, 2017 – Barbara Dragon, NHN Officer Emeritus

Click here for printable version of 1/22/17 update.

Self-funded Private Education vs. Government Funded School Choice:

The Liberty of Parents and Private Schools vs. Government Control

  1. Nevada’s “Education Savings Account” program now being proclaimed “the model” for other states in the publicly funded “school choice” debate.  Or is it? 

Background:  During the 2015 Nevada Legislative Session, State Senator Scott Hammond requested a Bill Draft Resolution (BDR) for a government funded alternative education option for Nevada K-12 students. The Friedman Foundation (renamed EdChoice in 2016) assisted Senator Hammond in the writing of SB 302, the Nevada Education Savings Account bill.  What makes Nevada’s ESA unique from existing smaller programs in four other states (Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, and Tennessee) is that it is “universal”, meaning it is not “means” or “needs” tested and is available to all NV public school students enrolled for a minimum of 100 days regardless of family income level or school failure rates.

Authors of SB 302 proclaimed, “It allows parents to remove their children from their assigned public schools and access a portion or all of their children’s public education funding to pay for services like private school tuition, curriculum, learning therapies, tutoring and more.” [i] This new program passed the 2015 NV Legislature along strict party lines (all Republicans in support, all Democrats opposed).[ii] [1]  Currently, state legislatures in Texas, Indiana, Idaho, Iowa, Pennsylvania, Missouri, and even President-elect Trumps’ new administration are mulling government funded ESAs to expand “school choice” in 2017 and the Nevada ESA program is the model for many of the proposals.

An Education Savings Account (ESA) program is different from a “voucher” they say, since money from the state’s Distributive School Account (DSA) is not being paid directly from the state to a religious private school (Blaine Amendments in many state constitutions prohibit the use of public funding for sectarian purposes).  Rather, the money (between $5,100 to $5,700 in NV) is to go from the state’s Distributive School Account into the Education Savings Account in the name of the child, whose parents then choose from government “approved” resources where to spend the money so that the child receives an education as compelled by state compulsory attendance laws.[iii] This, proponents say, means the parent, not the state, is choosing the education modality for the child and the parent is then “empowered” to choose a private religious school or use religious materials for the education of their child. The NV Supreme Court upheld this in Schwartz v. Lopez.[iv]  However, this new “empowerment” called “school choice” is still controlled by government when compared to self-funded, private homeschooling that is rooted in the parent’s right to direct the education of their child, free from government control, in other words, Education Liberty.

Read more here.

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Parental Observations Regarding Their Voucher-accepting School

IAHE Action has heard from parents with children in Indiana voucher-accepting schools that they have seen negative consequences of vouchers. We asked these parents to share their observations as a warning to others in regards to the negative effect of government funding of education whether it’s a voucher or an education scholarship/options account.

 The Indiana General Assembly included the language below in Indiana Code in 2011 to protect nonpublic schools that take public funding. As you will note, even with the best of intentions, government funding has unintended consequences.

IC 20-51-4 Chapter 4. Choice Scholarship

IC 20-51-4-1 Autonomy of nonpublic schools; curriculum

Sec. 1. (a) Except as provided under subsections (b) through (h), it is the intent of the general assembly to honor the autonomy of nonpublic schools that choose to become eligible schools under this chapter. A nonpublic eligible school is not an agent of the state or federal government, and therefore:

(1) the department or any other state agency may not in any way regulate the educational program of a nonpublic eligible school that accepts a choice scholarship under this chapter, including the regulation of curriculum content, religious instruction or activities, classroom teaching, teacher and staff hiring requirements, and other activities carried out by the eligible school;

(2) the creation of the choice scholarship program does not expand the regulatory authority of the state, the state’s officers, or a school corporation to impose additional regulation of nonpublic schools beyond those necessary to enforce the requirements of the choice scholarship program in place on July 1, 2011; and

(3) a nonpublic eligible school shall be given the freedom to provide for the educational needs of students without governmental control.

 

 Ask anyone, and they will tell you that Catholic schools are known to do a great job of educating children, especially the poor and minorities. The authors of the book Common Good say that the Catholic schools have built their success by having each school decide its academic standards. They have traditionally given less weight to background differences, and this provides an excellent education for all students. Costs began rising when the schools did not have as many nuns teaching, and this has made it harder for parents to send their children to Catholic schools. For many parents and schools the development of vouchers seemed like an answered prayer; however, this is proving not to be true.  govt-funds-govt-controls-1

The vouchers were started with parents being told that there would be few changes for the private school; the main change being that parents and schools would see an increase of funds. This would help to take the financial burden off of the parents and churches. This sounded too good to be true and, in fact, it was-Catholic schools are changing and will continue to change as long as they take government money. Vouchers threaten the autonomy of Catholic schools, as each used to choose its curriculum and choose how to be accredited or not accredited. Now all forty-two elementary schools in our diocese are accredited by AdvancEd. Starting this year all curricula needed to be approved by the diocese.

At least two schools had already purchased books and were told to use different ones, or they would lose their accreditation from the state as well as voucher money. The diocese is in the planning stages of having an approved list of books for each school to choose from. This means that all forty-two schools will be using the same curriculum with only a few changes from school to school. Many are not aware, but all five of the dioceses in Indiana joined, and all are accredited by AdvancEd because individual accreditation is cost prohibitive.

In March of 1984, the U.S. Supreme Court made it clear that private schools are subject to government regulations if they enroll students with government money. This money can go directly to the school or the individual student, but the same rule still applies. Examples of federal assistance are scholarships, loans, and grants.  from-the-govt

All students take the ISTEP test which is aligned to Common Core State Standards (CCSS). The test is aligned to CCSS because Indiana takes federal money and Common Core (CC) testing is part of the requirements. Each student including those who do not receive vouchers takes the test. Every student in Catholic schools has become part of the federal database. Schools discourage parents from refusing the test as this can change test results, especially in a small school. This is important because schools are graded on their results and if a school has too many years of failing test results the school loses its accreditation and voucher money. Schools must follow the state standards, and the state standards include federal rules as Indiana receives federal money. In essence, the federal government can tell the schools in Indiana what they can teach. Individual schools in our diocese will no longer choose their curriculum. The diocese will provide each school with an approved curriculum list. This is not the parent-guided learning that the Catholic Church advocates. Many of our schools are using the Notre Dame ACE program which instructs teachers how to infuse Catholicism into the secular school books. The Notre Dame ACE curriculum has CC in it. CCSS are copyrighted by the National Governors Association (NGA). The copyright ensures the same standards or same curriculum. This is being seen in the diocese as they will be giving the same curriculum choices to all forty-two elementary schools. The key to CCSS is the individual student learning outcomes. The outcome does not take into account individual differences, but rather all are the same and failure is removed. This is done by lowering the academic bar for Catholic students. As an example, in one school where new books were bought this year the sixth-grade students are doing the same math they did in fourth grade. This allows all students to meet the standards-not one child fails and no one excels. Gone are the days when all students are challenged; instead, teachers are told to challenge when they can. Some parents have asked to have their children put ahead in areas that are not challenging the student, and they have been told this could cause social problems.

Catholic schools are quick to say that the state is not telling them what curriculum to use, and this is true. The state, instead, has chosen to use the state standards as the guidelines that each school must meet that takes vouchers. This limits the curriculum choices for these schools. The sixth-grade math standards page and the sixth grade English standards PDF page of the IDOE (which anyone can download) states many of the standards originated from various sources including Common Core State Standards. One principal said Indiana does not have CCSS in its schools. The schools must teach to the standards, so, therefore, CCSS are in Indiana state accredited schools. Dr. Terrence Moore, of Hillsdale College, did not support the 2014 revision of Indiana standards. Hung-His Wu of the University of California Berkeley, a math professor, and common core supporter, told reporters that ninety percent of Indiana College-and-Career Ready standards are straight from Common Core standards. This makes sense as standards can only deviate fifteen percent from the federal guidelines. James Milgram, a professor of math at Stanford University, did not support Indiana’s new 2014 standards. In 2014, Hoosiers against Common Core released a study that compared the two guidelines 2010 and 2014, and it found that the majority of the standards for 2014 were imported word for word from the 2010 Common Core standards. The analysis also showed that most of the hotly contested standards were still included. Catholic schools now teach to these standards. Another principal has said that Indiana uses College-and-Career-Ready standards, not CCSS. Do a Google search and you will find that this is just another name for CCSS. If your standards use ninety percent of CCSS, you are truly just using CCSS. Scores in most Catholic schools were higher on the tests given before implementing the voucher program. David Coleman has said that the SAT will be aligned to CCSS. Catholic high schools will likewise teach to the CCSS in order to receive accreditation and good SAT scores.

Expect "gift" to be accompanied by operant conditioning habits of mind altering assessments. If not now, in the future. BEWARE.

Voucher-receiving schools need to complete a school improvement plan and a review of student achievement indicators. This is a paper that schools type up and send to the state. The state then reviews the plan to assure it meets the standards and that the school has an improvement plan. There also is an appointed ombudsman to help with receiving the funds. This also ensures that all the guidelines are met. The guidelines can lead too much extra spending as well. One small rural school needs to spend $15,000 on security to maintain accreditation. This will include protective film on all the windows and two-way radios.

The academic assessments include measures to assess higher-order thinking skills and understanding in all grades that are tested. This has led to testing in younger grades that is not developmentally appropriate until a child reaches the age of eleven or twelve as they do not have the developed pre-frontal cortex needed to think abstractly. This is necessary for higher order thinking. These tests do not measure knowledge but the thinking process. It is difficult to assess higher order thinking on a standardized test accurately. These tests affect all students at Catholic schools even if no voucher money is taken by a family as the schools can not discriminate in their policies, all must take the tests. The Pioneer Institute says that the liberation theology and social justice promoted and taught by Catholic schools is Marxism or secularism. Therefore, a secular curriculum will be used most in Catholic schools.

Currently, all of our diocese schools accept vouchers, and this subjects them to the mandates of the education bill, Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). This was signed into law in December of 2015, and it cemented CC into federal control. For the Catholic school, this means as long as they take vouchers they have no choice but to choose an ESSA curriculum. Catholic schools that are accredited are finding it difficult to make changes their curriculum. This will remain true as long as they continue to take the vouchers. Teaching from secular textbooks will continue, and socialism and socialist pressure will continue to be introduced at a young age.

The cost of a private Catholic education has also changed with the vouchers. Before vouchers, each school/church along with the diocese was able to pay for the expenses of each child that went to that school. Most people knew that Catholic parents would not be able to afford the complete cost of a Catholic education, so each church assisted the school in paying for some of the costs of the school. This was common in Lutheran schools as well. Children were told that the cost of their education was kept down by contributions from the congregation or parish members. Most students in the 1970’s did not pay a high tuition to go to a Catholic school. The tuition was capped at $500 or $600 a family. Most of the money to run the school (teacher salary, building, etc.) came from the church. For Catholics, this began to change as nuns became less available to teach. Most churches charged tuition, but, if the family could not afford it, the church picked up the cost of the education. No one was turned away because they couldn’t pay. The schools also had a limit of how many children each family would have enrolled and pay tuition. An example would be three children as the limit of paying. So, as an example, if the tuition was $2,000 a student the maximum amount a family would pay is $6,000 even if they had four children in school. This is changing with the vouchers. Soon at all schools, there will not be a cap on the number of students one family needs to pay tuition for. The new cost per student is approximately $3,000-$4,000. If your family does not qualify for vouchers, and you have four children enrolled, you are now paying $12,000-$16,000 instead of $6,000. This is twice as much and some who do not get vouchers find this added cost unaffordable. School choice is not working for these parents it is hurting them. Parents who get vouchers have very little choice either as they cannot afford the tuition at a non-voucher school where before they were able to afford the private Catholic school education with assistance from the parish.  wherever-liberty-1

Small schools, who before only had five to six computers for the whole school, now have a computer for each child so that the standards can be met. These small schools would not be able to maintain this level of technology without the vouchers and they would not have bought them if did not receive voucher money. Many studies have been done that show that students retain knowledge better with books. Books are what made those small schools great academically.   In one small Catholic school, they say they have seen a twenty percent decline in their test scores since starting to accept vouchers and changing their curriculum. The vouchers have made Catholic education less affordable, and choice is being taken from the individual schools and parents.

Every voucher-accepting school needs to be able to accept special needs children. This has increased the cost to each school. Special needs children deserve to have a good education but by requiring a private school to accept special needs children, the voucher, have greatly increased the costs to those schools. It has forced our diocese to have one school that is devoted to accepting special needs students. The diocese assures all students with special needs can get to the school by bus or by car. Each school also needs to be able to accommodate some amount of special needs, and this has led to the additional hiring of aides to provide 1:1 work. The small school will find this beyond their financial ability.

The atmosphere at the Catholic schools has also changed when talking to parents and teachers. Parents that choose to send their children to a Catholic school that does not belong to the church do not have as much of an invested interest in the church, and therefore the commitment from these parents is less. Many have noticed a decrease in participation in school improvement efforts such a fundraisers for blinds, books, desks and other items that these schools need. Most do not see how this benefits the school to keep costs down.

Parents are pulling problem students from one school and putting them in another school. Often these problems follow the child. These are usually behavior problems, and this means that teachers spend increased time on disciplining and less time teaching. Some of these students have parents who want a hands-off approach and so they have had very little structure at home. Therefore it is difficult for these children to adjust to a structured Catholic environment. Students are also witnessing increased violence, poor language, and disrespect to teachers. Many Catholics sent their children to a private school to see less of this. Most of the children that are admitted that have behavior problems are difficult to remove from the individual schools once they are admitted, and schools cannot discriminate who they admit. To remove one of these children there needs to be a lot of documentation. After the documentation is completed, there is separate paperwork to complete and send to the state. Also, whatever percentage of the school year is left, that percentage of the voucher money must go with that child to his next school. This is added work for the principals.  govt-solution

Parents of students in Catholic schools are being told that Indiana did not adopt CCSS and therefore we are not using CCSS. This is not true as one school is using CC math and reading. Indiana still receives federal funding for schools and therefore must meet federal guidelines. This includes Catholic schools who take voucher money. This is another step in nationalizing education and Catholic schools by choosing to take the voucher money have to participate. This puts each Catholic child into the national database of information and identifies them as a worker. The goal some say is to use these tests scores to steer children into careers and jobs. Others say that only the top twenty percent of students nationally will go on to college. There must be accountability for the money that is given to schools from the state. The accountability of the voucher money will the follow the child wherever his education takes place, private, public, or charter. If the state does not have accountability for the voucher program there will be misuse and problems. Also, people want to know how well their tax money is working.

Remember schools that take voucher money must teach to the State’s standards and Indiana’s HB 1427 states, That the board will use CC as the base model for academic standards to the extent necessary to comply with federal standards to receive a flexibility waiver. Therefore, when parents are told that Indiana does not have any CC they are wrong. Ninety percent of the current math standards are still the same in the new 2014 guidelines. The idea is to nationalize education and have this money follow students from state to state. This is not what we want as parents.  guiding-principle

The vouchers have not improved Catholic education or the environment in which the child learns. Every child in a Catholic school has been affected by the vouchers even those who do not receive one as everything is now aligned to state standards.

The best solution would be for Catholic schools to return to not accepting state funds. Catholic schools at one time supported themselves and could again. Hillsdale College is one such institution that thrives without government money. In 1998, in Tennessee, a Catholic superintendent was able to reopen closed Catholic schools with donations from businesses and individuals. Any child who could not afford the schooling was not charged tuition. This model could work for our Catholic schools as well. Many believe we are making education more affordable with the money from the state but as stated tuition costs have risen. Each Catholic school that accepts vouchers waves the right to set their own standards and they must conform to the state standards that include national testing. For most of the Catholic schools in our diocese, this will mean the Notre Dame ACE program and choosing from a curriculum that the diocese approves. Prior to the voucher program, each Catholic school principal would choose the curriculum and it was approved by the parish priest. This was more local than the new approach.

A study that was released a little over a year ago revealed that students with vouchers lost significantly in math and they had zero gains in English. Another study showed that schools now administer about twenty percent more tests.

Private schools who do not participate in Indiana’s voucher program site concerns about independence, character, and the identity of their school. All of these concerns have become true for the Catholic schools that take vouchers in our diocese. Many of the non-participating schools also stated that they did not want to administer the current ISTEP test as they feel that it does not reflect their curriculum goals. Another concern of non-participating private schools is the increased paperwork and reports.  more-quickly-destroy

The Association of Classical and Christian Schools summarizes vouchers in this way, “He who takes the King’s coin becomes the King’s man.” Just because conditions are now tolerable does not mean that they may not be tolerable tomorrow. Their stance is that if you take money from the state, you will take your marching orders from the state.

One can be certain that as long as money is taken from the state for a school accountability will follow that money and at any time those conditions can change for the better or worse. We all have seen how difficult it is repeal regulations once they happen.

If our Catholic schools continue to use the current state standards and chosen curriculum we foresee a mass exodus from the Catholic schools and eventually closings of Catholic schools; vouchers were to help school choice not to close them. The education that is given is mediocre at best which forces parents to find alternate ways to educate their children, including homeschooling. This is one alternative which allows the parents to take back the control of their children’s education. Many families, especially single parent homes and those who both must work will find it difficult to find workable solutions. Some will find that they must choose needed income from their jobs over a better education for their children. Families must provide for the basic needs of their children.

The choice of curriculum needs to be brought back to each school. Our diocese should consider how they may best do this. Each school’s involvement at the local church level is what made private Catholic schools better; it was not state money. The schools were a mission of the Catholic Church and they should return to a mission and not be voucher-funded where few decisions are left to the parents, priest, and church.

 

This paper was written by a family who has seen changes caused by the Indiana voucher program.

More Indiana voucher regulation news:

Education Freedom Watch Private School Choice Freedom Grading Scale Table

A Parent Laments the Common Core-Voucher Link

Indiana Conservative Coalition:  “School Choice” with Strings Attached Not Conservative

How Common Core is Affecting Private Christian Schools?  Common Core Education Standards Generate Catholic Concerns

Six Things to Know About Indiana’s School Voucher Program, a Model Betsy DeVos Could Support

Why Homeschoolers Don’t Want School Vouchers

Rigged Assessments

As a follow-up to Mary Black’s post about assessments, we’ve asked Wendy Hart, a friend of IAHE Action, to share how they may be rigged.

 

We all know that polls can be skewed and that ‘what everybody knows’ may not be so. Similarly, assessments and assessment data can be gathered, used, and presented in various ways to feed an agenda.  Just because a child is said to be proficient on a state assessment doesn’t mean he or she actually is ‘proficient’ in the way parents want him or her to be.

When I was in school, my teachers would give us tests to help figure out how much of what they were teaching we had actually learned.  Then, the state stepped in and started giving assessments to make sure teachers were teaching what the state wanted them to teach.  And now?  We’re told the assessments are great, but we are just supposed to trust.  We can’t see the assessment questions.  The algorithms (mathematical formulas) determining which questions come next or whether you have a higher or a lower score are kept secret. The State Boards of Education or the assessment vendors, themselves, can move and change the ‘proficiency’ levels at will. 

We take it on faith when a student passes a math assessment it means the student is proficient.  Is it possible to rig an assessment?  Not only is it possible, but it’s also being done all the time.  I have four examples of how the assessments are and have been manipulated to provide different results than most people expect.  This is being done without oversight, without insight into what is occurring, and certainly without permission from parents.

The first example is assessing not just what a student is supposed to know but making them do the problem in a particular way. Ask yourself, does this create a disadvantage for a child who knows the math facts but hasn’t been shown a particular way of doing things?

 

mathaddtoten

 

This problem is an example of a Common Core Math Standard from First Grade:

Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10. Use strategies such as counting on; making ten (e.g., 8 + 6 = 8 + 2 + 4 = 10 + 4 = 14); decomposing a number leading to a ten (e.g., 13 – 4 = 13 – 3 – 1 = 10 – 1 = 9); using the relationship between addition and subtraction (e.g., knowing that 8 + 4 = 12, one knows 12 – 8 = 4); and creating equivalent but easier or known sums (e.g., adding 6 + 7 by creating the known equivalent 6 + 6 + 1 = 12 + 1 = 13).   

This question doesn’t just assess whether a student knows how to do an addition word problem, but it assesses whether a student has been trained on the Making Ten Strategy as outlined in the standard.  Could a student solve 8+6 without knowing the Making Ten Strategy?  Yes, of course.  Does using the Making Ten Strategy indicate critical thinking?  Or does it simply indicate a student has been instructed in this strategy?  Would you be able to succeed as a mathematician without learning this Making Ten Strategy in First Grade? Have you successfully used addition in your life without thinking about the Making Ten Strategy?

BLOG Featured Image_Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL

Many parent complaints about Common Core Math come from having to show the various methods for getting the answer or having to explain why an answer is correct.

Parent:“When I was in school, we did it this way.”

Child: “I have to do it this other way or it will be marked wrong.”

One mother asked her child’s teacher if he could simply do the standard algorithm on all his math homework because the multiple strategies were causing him stress.  The teacher said if he didn’t learn the strategies, he wouldn’t do well on the state assessment.  Once the mother indicated her child would not be taking the assessment, the teacher readily agreed to give credit for just the standard algorithms.  The reason for the multiple methods?  To do well on the assessment.  

A review written in 2011 by Dr. Stephen Wilson of Johns Hopkins University states the following about the Common Core SBAC test (then under development).  He says, “It appears that the assessments will focus on communication skills and Mathematical Practices over content knowledge.”  

Furthermore, “Mathematical Practices, or what was usually called ‘process’ standards in most states, do little more than describe how someone pretty good at mathematics seems to approach mathematics problems. As stand-alone standards, they are neither teachable nor testable. Mathematics is about solving problems, and anyone who can solve a complex multi-step problem using mathematics automatically demonstrates their skill with the Mathematical Practices, (whether they can communicate well or not).”

In short, we see Dr. Wilson’s concerns demonstrated in the above example: the process of getting the answer is of greater importance than the actual mathematical abilities most people think the assessment should be assessing.

A second example comes from Utah’s SAGE (end-of-year) sample assessment for Third Grade. This question is supposed to assess a deeper understanding of division than simply asking if a child knows the answer to 12 ÷ 4. Unfortunately, in creating a more convoluted problem, the assessment question can be solved without knowing anything more than how to count and how to write a division problem. Division facts, themselves, are not necessary.

sagemathdivision

There are lots of kids who can divide things equally by putting them in different boxes without knowing 12 ÷ 4 = 3.  Supposedly, by dragging the stars and dragging the numbers, you are assessing higher-order thinking.  But what you are really assessing is the child’s familiarity with the software interface, the format of the problem, and whether they can count and relate counting to division.  But they don’t have to know 12 ÷ 4 = 3.

Would a child who knows her division facts be able to do this problem anyway?  Most likely.  However, it is also true this question doesn’t distinguish the child who does know her math facts from the one who does not.

A third example has to do with reading comprehension.  It dates back to the 1980’s but illustrates that what is on an assessment and how it is asked can be used to manipulate and ‘direct’ a student’s thought processes.  I quote Dr. Peg Luksik who worked for Pennsylvania’s Department of Education.  From her video :

‘A sample question said: “There’s a group called the Midnight Marauders and they went out at night and did vandalism. I (the child) would join the group IF…”

“…my best friend was in the group.”

“…my mother wouldn’t find out.”

There was no place to say they would not join the group. They had to say they would join the group.’

Dr. Luksik states that while this was listed as a citizenship assessment, the internal documents stated, “We’re not testing objective knowledge. We are testing and scoring for the child’s threshold for behavior change without protest.”

Additionally, Dr. Luksik discusses another state’s Reading Assessment question: “If you found a wallet with money in it, would you take it?”

She asked, ‘Do you read better if you say “yes”? Or do you read better if you say “no”? Or were they assessing a child’s honesty on a state assessment with their name on it…?’

Clearly, these are examples of assessment questions that were not assessing either citizenship or reading as you and I would define them.

And finally, before a single Utah student took the state’s SAGE assessment in 2014, the head of state assessments warned local school board members that student test scores were going to drop by 10 or 20 points.  He also stated there was no way to correlate the previous test results with the SAGE results.  So, how did he know this?  The point was they knew what the target proficiency rate was.  Utah was looking for a proficiency rate in the 40’s.  And as they went through the process of setting those proficiency scores, they did so after the first round of testing. Then they modified the scoring to make sure the result fell within that 40% range*.  So, in one year, did Utah kids lose 20 points of knowledge?  Or does it simply mean the Powers That Be decided only 40% of the kids got to be labeled ‘proficient’ regardless of what they actually knew?

The only sure way of knowing an assessment is truly measuring academic content and grading it appropriately requires transparency with the assessment questions, the assessment methodology, and independent verification procedures.

Instead of wondering how kids are doing on state assessments and whether a school is “good” based on the assessment scores, we need to be asking what are these assessments supposed to be measuring and how do we know they really are measuring what they claim?

*Alpine School Board Study Session Audio September 23, 2014, Additional Media->Study Session @ 45 minutes. http://board.alpineschools.org/2014/09/18/september-23-2014-board-meeting/

 

Wendy Hart is the mother of three children.  She and her husband Scott have lived in Highland, UT for 17 years.  She was raised in Cupertino, CA, and moved to Utah to pursue her B.S. in Mathematics from Brigham Young University.  She has worked as a programmer and manager in several hi-tech companies in Utah, and owns her own database migration company.  Wendy is honored to serve the citizens of Highland, Alpine, and Cedar Hills, UT as a member of the Alpine School District Board of Education.

 

Calling the Dance with Best Partners

We’ve asked our friend, Jen Siek, to share the negative consequences that Michigan homeschoolers have experienced due to other homeschoolers’ involvement with the public school Parent Partnership Program.  We hope to remind Indiana home educators that others may experience unintended consequences even if they choose not to participate in a public school program. 

 

“Grab a partner, circle left!”

Contradance enthusiasts hear about “partners” every time they show up for another great evening of fun and exercise, and choosing your partner is a fun social opportunity for the three-minute dance that ensues. Within the lifestyle of homeschooling, however, the dance with a “partner” is a matter for prayer, great thought and wise counsel.

What is your process for deciding who partners with you in training your children in the way they should go?

A Parent Partnership Program is a public school re-enrollment program developed in the last decade, offered throughout my state to homeschoolers in which students choose from a menu of activities sponsored by local studios, museums, even YMCAs, and then are enrolled into required activities determined by that public school or a public school employee. Hired staff, often from within the homeschooling community or sponsoring organizations, insist upon saying that the re-enrollment programs are geared for “homeschoolers,” rather than “part-time public schoolers”–yet the school district considers the enrolled children as part-time students instead.

I first learned of a parent “partnership” program when I moved to the Midwest from Pennsylvania. Ms. “Smith,” the partnership coordinator, came to the door of the house we were renting with a mug of candy, a friendly smile, and forms. Our requirements were listed beginning with data for not only the children who would be getting the free or nearly-free classes but also their siblings’ information.

Pennsylvania’s overreach in draconian homeschooling laws trained my spirit for this moment– I knew I would not be signing up for this program. I will never forget seeing my husband on the computer accounting for the children’s learning hours per subject, every week, getting documents notarized and delivered to the school district, or driving the family up to the evaluator’s home for a two-hour long interview session.

After my new friend left with her mug and blank forms, I noticed news in the months that followed of the State Board of Education meeting where they discussed the “problem” of homeschoolers. Watching the proceedings, I saw the board was unhappy that homeschooled students do not register their names into the system, and therefore couldn’t be tracked and overseen by the state. A guest attendee, the Teacher of the Year award recipient, offered the idea that homeschoolers would be happier to voluntarily register and accept Public school requirements if the registering family got “the freebies, the band, the teacher development classes, more benefits than [independent homeschool families].”  

At the close of the board meeting, the President asserted that she would “follow up” on those suggestions. “Oh,” I thought, “this might explain the knocks on the door, mugs, and smiles.”

While I do not impugn the motives of legislators designing a plan to “offer” electives in return for student data and requirements like Count Day, or a school vetted “mentor” to sit with or interview the re-enrolled child once a week, I do question whether this dance partner may result in a stubbed toe or worse. School districts are intent on data from students which draw tax dollars. Shall we dance with a partner motivated chiefly by the bottom line? Ouch.

Is a partner a true partner if they don’t believe you can dance? The best pairings are two people with confidence in their dance partner, yet what do we find–requirements placed upon a family before they were ever tried and found negligent in their homeschooling? Whoa. I think I may have sprained something.

Moreover, the situation is unjust. Self-funding families operating under their own guidance are ushered into their community music studios, art classes and YMCA Swim-Gym programs and told they will pay a great deal more than their friends in the class who have re-enrolled their children into part-time public school status through the new “Parent Partnership.” In practice, this amounts to a harsh fine placed upon parent-led, privately paying homeschooling families; a newly created class system of winners and losers. The new normal is a division within the homeschool community where before the partnership, every family was treated and billed the same for the same great class. The dance hall has been divided, many are flagging, and the band is thinking about packing it in and going home.

May I suggest a biblical test for choosing your dance partner in the homeschooling journey? Perhaps a biblical test to apply may be found in Genesis 18:19–

“For I have chosen him (the father his household), so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what he has promised him.”

Perhaps, consider: In what ways are keeping to school district requirements through parent partnerships helping families to direct children “after their father?” Also, in what ways do interviews done by a state worker “mentor” help family members “keep the way of the Lord?”

From our family’s experience, should I ever be the Contradance caller I might call out:

“Circle ‘round, all join hands, avoid partnerships which drain confident leadership, tooling and time with children.” “ Promenade away from state programs clouding parent educators of a right vision, a reliance on Jesus, The Way”. “Now bow to your corner, keep fair pricing, share a class, a gift, or talent joining your neighbor.”

Let’s partner with one another, let’s partner with the Lord, the Best.

 

Jennifer Siek

Administrator, Founder Music Naturally, music initiative, teacher at home, motivator, musician, and independent teachers’ advocate.

Saint Joseph, Michigan

Testing, Assessments, Standards, Teaching Machines… The Science of Creating Obedient Citizens. Behavioral Science. Part 4

This is a continuation of a multi-part series.

11. ESA’s (Education Subsidy Accounts) more Behavioral Conditioning, deception, theft and cognitive dissonance.

Education Subsidy Accounts (ESA’s,) Education Scholarship Accounts, and Education Savings Accounts (the deception label,) expand the role of government regulation, funding, dependency, and inflation into the lives of recipients, vendors, service providers, taxpayers, and current public education on all levels. ESA’s create yet another bureaucracy and bureaucratic demand for standardized content, assessments, testing and third-party accountability measures, as a result of yet, another government redistribution scheme of taxpayer monies.

This scheme is a ubiquitous example of Behavioral Science’s Operant Conditioning, again under the guise of free choice and ‘benevolence.’ “Let us help you get what you have coming to you….and we’ll show you where to spend it.”

This scheme, like most education schemes in the past, does not originate with the parents, but with those who seek to gain from government funded redistribution programs and dependence on those programs. This scheme does not advance, as their propaganda states, “free-market” competition. In order to have a free-market competition, one must use one’s own resources. A free market does not exist in any market in which the competitors are funded by the endless pocket book of the government; the government which taxes taxpayers directly and indirectly to fund its redistribution schemes. (That is the definition of socialismGovernment control of production and distribution of goods, services and ideas.)

a. Whose money is it?

These ESA accounts are NOT being filled with personal savings monies, but are created, out of thin air, using taxpayer monies! Read as digital illusions tracked on digital accounts. Creating ‘money,’ even digital “money,” causes inflation of costs to all and reduces the value of all other money and savings.  spending-other-peoples-money-1

b. More Shackles and Submission

“Free” money treats are placed in education doggie bowl accounts in exchange for submission to regulations such as registration with governing authorities; registration in and subsequent withdrawal from public school within designated time frame; private school accreditation, curriculum approval, assessment testing, expenditure documentation submission via specified modality, submission schedule, provider certification, vendor certification, and various sundry ‘accountability’ measures as the redistributors and planners arbitrarily desire.

Considering the Josephson Institute of Ethics ongoing survey results of students who lie, cheat and steal to get the grade on tests or be ‘successful’, and then as adults continue in their pattern of fallen ethics into their adult professions; perhaps, it is no wonder these adults marketing ESA accounts continue in their conditioned patterns of deception, avarice, and taxpayer theft in order to be successful in the goals of their paymasters.

c. Opt-Out….but now, Opt-In? Cognitive Dissonance from the “experts.”

Don’t eat butter! Eat margarine. Hydrogenation is bad, so yes, eat butter. Don’t eat raw foods; pasteurization kills the bacteria; and the digestive enzymes, too. Oops, buy into the raw dairy herd. Don’t eat wheat or dairy, or corn or soy, or palm oil, or GMO, or shellfish, or sugar, or anything, unless it’s stamped ‘fair trade,’ and non-GMO, and kosher. And, make certain your foods don’t leave any footprints on the planet. If folks just stop eating, there won’t be any footprints. (See what happened to food when the government subsidized farming and crop insurance?)

Just as the latest incomplete ‘research’ pumps the pedals of the food marketeers; what is being pushed one season by the education ‘reformers’ is a complete opposite of what was parroted the previous season. Notice that the very same groups of education experts who lead the Ed Subsidy Account (ESA) crusade, which will require assessment testing are the very same crusaders who polished the verbiage and equipped parents to use their weapon of opting-out of testing and assessments of the government subsidized public education.

Yes, to recap— those very same folks who pushed the “Opt-out” of testing, assessments, college placements tests for data tracking reasons, are now advocating ESA’s which will require testing, assessments, registration and more data-tracking.

No wonder the herd is so weary of being stampeded from one canyon to the other; and the young bucks hardened, cynical and survival-oriented.  

d. “School Choice” double-speak.

Many of the same groups that promote ESA’s have done this utilizing another deceptive double speak public relations phrase, that of “School Choice.” To the innocent person, the phrase means just what the words say, and what we have always had: the choice of who should fund and direct the education of our child. This choice still exists. Parents may choose privately-funded education or government taxpayer-funded education.

The double speak is that the groups pushing ESA’s use the term “School Choice” to mislead the innocent, while at the same time create legislation that will expand the role of taxpayer-funded government subsidy into private education resulting in placing private education under government control. To do so, will reduce the available options of truly private education. Parents and consumers will, directly and indirectly, subsidize, not only the latest taxpayer-funded scheme but, as more folks are behaviorally conditioned to accept government education entitlement accounts, it will make it more difficult for privately funded education to compete with the market inflation caused by the government’s introduction of “free” ESA money.

Recent evidence of these crippling costs exists in the school voucher program which has escalated the costs to formerly privately-funded religious schools. These schools now find their costs tripled to meet the plethora of demands that the voucher program participation requires such as additional testing, assessments, curriculum, facilities, technology, accreditation, teacher training, additional administrators, software etc.

e. Taxpayer and consumer theft. There is no free lunch and no free service.

Theft is defined as taking something that belongs to another without their consent.

Every consumer is a taxpayer. While not every consumer files a personal income tax return, every consumer who purchases anything, does pay tax. It is these consumer taxes that fund the government and its dependency redistribution schemes.

This ESA scheme follows the same pattern of government expansion, dependency, and control as evidenced in healthcare, healthcare insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, disability benefits, old age insurance, college loan subsidy, agriculture subsidy, industry bailouts, child welfare, mortgage insurance, and the array of tax deferred, government regulated invested accounts such as: 401 K, IRA, SIMPLE, FSA, HSA, 529, ESA, …blah, blah, blah.

Just because something is permitted, promoted, partially-funded or favored via government redistribution of taxpayer funds does not mean that it is right, just or beneficial for anyone. Abortion, which goes by another ‘choice’ mantra, is a clear example of what happens to a society that succumbs to operant conditioning of the masses, fashioning the masses to dispose of people like day-old bread. There is no ‘free’ service; millions of individuals have had to pay for these services with their tax dollars, while millions more have paid for them with their lives. So much for ‘liberty and the pursuit of happiness.’

f. Bogus benevolence.

“The least amount of care is given when spending other people’s money on other people.” ~ Economist Milton Friedman who wrote entire books based on this truism. 

The middlemen, promoters of any government redistribution scheme whether it be special accounts, favors, tax deferment, tax-exemption, loans, grants, credits, subsidies, insurances etc. etc. practice behavioral science’s mental gymnastics in attempts to market these schemes as benevolent intentions. They are NOT.

It is never humane or charitable to condition a dog to salivate at the sound of a bell, nor is it benevolent to remove an individual’s liberty by coercing them into dependence upon others. Nor is it benevolent to redistribute the resources of others without their consent.

If one desires to be benevolent or charitable to others, then one ought to follow the directives pronounced by God and let Him distribute appropriate rewards.

“Be careful not to do your acts of righteousness before men, to be seen by them. If you do you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.

So when you give to the needy, do not announce it with trumpets, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and on the streets, to be honored by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Jesus Christ, as recorded by Matthew 6:1-4

If one desires to be benevolent, then one is to use one’s own personal resources, eliminating the middlemen who forge the shackles of dependence on the socialist welfare state.

So, to all those who promote more redistribution schemes using other peoples’ money to supposedly benefit others, we say,

“Do your own good deeds, using your own resources and leave each of us to use our own resources to do our own benevolence.

We will each keep our own accountability to God and not require the services of any middlemen, nor will we feed the leviathan of bureaucracy which consumes the lives, the liberties, the consciences and the pursuits of individual happiness.”

Partial Resources:

*Beyond Smarter, by Reuven Feuerstein (1921-2014). Professor Feuerstein, developmental, clinical and cognitive psychologist coined the term neuroplasticity,prior to the advent of functioning MRI’s that provide proof of this ongoing structural change in the brain.

Professor Feuerstein, a profoundly gifted, insightful and deeply religious Jew, recognizing that man is created in the image of G-d, and to be respected as such; was vehemently opposed to the use of computers, digital software, artificial intelligence and the like, in the teaching of human beings.

Shmuel Feuerstein, Biblical and Talmudic Antecedents of Mediated Learning Experience

Lord Acton, Essays on the history of Liberty

E.B. Ashton, The Fascist, His State, His Mind

Milton Friedman, Free to Choose

Walter Lippmann, Public Opinion

J.S. Mill, On Liberty

Daniel Siegel, The Neurobiology of We

Vladamir Turchenko, The Scientific and Technological Revolution and the Revolution in Education

Ludwig Von Mises, Socialism: An Economic and Sociological Analysis

E. G. West, Education and the State, A Study in Political Economy

Dr. Dawn Kazmierzak has over twenty years in private practice Optometry. Academic stickers include majors in biology, neurobiology, neuroscience, visual science, doctorate of Optometry; post-graduate work for SUNY and West Point (USMC) in developmental and hospital-based Optometry; cognitive science Feuerstein trained in Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) and FIE (Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment). Having been transmitted a love of learning and commitment to discerning the truth from her parents, she and her husband labor to model this transmission to their daughter.

It was (and is,) the anchors of faith in Christ and Biblical study that shielded Dawn from the operant conditioning that accompanies academic “successes.” These studies and stickers (degrees, certifications) were chosen in preparation for participation in third-world medical missions. If individuals lack the abilities to see, it is very difficult to teach themselves, grow in their faith, or provide for their families. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 This applies to physical, cognitive(mental) and spiritual ‘sight.’

You, as a homeschool parent, do not need all these stickers to transmit truth to and equip your child for their future; but, in my opinion, one does need a relationship with The Author, who defines what is true, right and just. Genesis 18:19. This relationship will provide all you need.

Blessings on your transmissions of your culture!

Testing, Assessments, Standards, Teaching Machines… The Science of Creating Obedient Citizens. Behavioral Science. Part 3

The latest installment of a multi-part series. Read Part 2 here.

9. Mass Men, mass production, minimum Standards and human capital.

If you’ve ever made homemade bread, you realize it takes time and loving attention. One searches out the best ingredients, reads all the labels, and hones appropriate proportions and rise times that depend on factors such as humidity, room and oven temperature, and other variations that occur in real ingredients and in real life. Making good bread, like artisan cheeses, or any handcrafted piece is an art.

Nurturing minds, your own child’s mind is like that as well. One cannot separate the mind from the body or the spirit. Nor can one ignore the emotions, the setting factors, and the variances of talent, temperament, interest or heart in each unique individual. Children are a gift from God to be handled with His guidance, time and loving attention.

Mass produced bread gets shoved here and there and is trashed with very little concern. Homemade bread is crafted with care, anticipated with its attending aroma, appreciated for its taste, texture, nutrient value, extra efforts, shared with family and friends, and savored to the last crumb.

When the Third-Party payers took over education, outsourcing the designated transmitters, the parents accountable to God, they needed student-testing outcomes on dictated minimum standards to report metrics to third party investors.

Now, we all know what “minimum standards” have done for any industry.

Houses were far better constructed when the builder and homeowner worked together, eye-to-eye to design and build a house that would become a home enjoyed for generations, packed with friends and remarked upon as representative of the excellent craftsmanship of the builder.

Medical care was far better when the patient-doctor relationship had no third party middlemen dictating minimum and maximum allowable fees, appointment times, procedure frequency, record documentation, services, interventions, medications, reimbursements, surgeons, stays, providers, co-pays, information transportability, diagnosis codes and insurance processing.

Food was far more nutritious when the farmer raised foods he, his family and neighbors would eat; food that was not genetically modified to kill bugs, weeds and consumers. Nor was the food government subsidized to control market prices and pawned off on government aligned institutions, schools, hospitals, nursing homes, food banks and impoverished countries.

When men are educated in mass, conditioned for obedience to a minimum ‘standard’, and viewed only as human capital to be regimented in rank and file for labor and consumption purposes, then human life is devalued to that of day old commercial bread. In contrast to proposed theories of humanitarian benevolence, the socialist humanist models result in very little respect for human life, individual distinction, or individual liberty.  BLOG Featured Image_Action Logo Square BW 10.28.15 SMALL

10. Liberty requires that education be privately funded, parent directed.

“A general education is a mere contrivance for moulding people to be exactly like one another: and as the mould in which it casts them is that which pleases the predominant power in the government, whether this be a monarch, a priesthood, an aristocracy, or the majority of the existing generation; in proportion as it is efficient and successful, it establishes a despotism over the mind, leading by natural tendency to one over the body.” ~ J.S. Mill, On Liberty 1859

Even political economist, parliamentarian, Utilitarian John Stuart Mill (1806-1873), dubbed as “the most influential English-speaking philosopher of the nineteenth century,” rallied against standardized government subsidized education. Mill himself was educated at home by his parents.

J. S. Mill was a great advocate of education for all, as he sought to see the people of England equipped with the abilities to vote and participate in governance. Yet, the locale of education was not to be dictated and “there would be no official pressure to supply people with teachers previously instructed in government training colleges. In the words of Adam Smith: ‘They would soon find better teachers than any whom the state could provide for them.” Educator, Philosopher, Economist Adam Smith (1723-1790), the author of “Wealth of Nations”, noted for the division of labor, had himself been a college professor and witnessed the realities of government subsidized education.

“In the University of Oxford, the greater part of the public professors have, for these many years, given up altogether even the pretence of teaching.” ~ Adam Smith in An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of Wealth of Nations (1776)

To be continued.

 

Dr. Dawn Kazmierzak has over twenty years in private practice Optometry. Academic stickers include majors in biology, neurobiology, neuroscience, visual science, doctorate of Optometry; post-graduate work for SUNY and West Point (USMC) in developmental and hospital-based Optometry; cognitive science Feuerstein trained in Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) and FIE (Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment). Having been transmitted a love of learning and commitment to discerning the truth from her parents, she and her husband labor to model this transmission to their daughter.

 It was (and is), the anchors of faith in Christ and Biblical study that shielded Dawn from the operant conditioning that accompanies academic “successes.” These studies and stickers (degrees, certifications) were chosen in preparation for participation in third-world medical missions. If individuals lack the abilities to see, it is very difficult to teach themselves, grow in their faith, or provide for their families. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 This applies to physical, cognitive(mental) and spiritual ‘sight.’

You, as a homeschool parent, do not need all these stickers to transmit truth to and equip your child for their future; but, in her opinion, one does need a relationship with The Author, who defines what is true, right and just. Genesis 18:19. This relationship will provide all you need.

Blessings on your transmissions of your culture!

Testing, Assessments, Standards, Teaching Machines… The Science of Creating Obedient Citizens. Behavioral Science. Part 2

This is a continuation of our multi-part series. Read Part 1 here.

4. Conditioned to Compromise, Conform, Lie and Cheat to get the Grade, “Success”, The Positive Reinforcement Reward.

Students want so much to make the grade, get the score, have ‘success’, please the test givers, their parents, peers, audience and get the conditioned reward, that they confess to lying, cheating and stealing to do so…and being okay with their “ethic.”

Josephson Institute on Ethics…

  • Age: 17 or under (51%); 18-24 (36%); 25-40 (18%); 41-50 (11%); Over 50 (10%). Teens are five times and young adults (18-24) are three times more likely than those over 40 to hold the cynical belief that lying and cheating is necessary to success. This belief is one of the most significant and reliable predictors of dishonest behavior in the adult world.

“According to the Josephson Institute of Ethics 2010 survey of 43,000 young people, 92 percent of students were satisfied with their personal ethics and character. However:

While 89 percent of students believe that being a good person is more important than being rich, almost one in three boys and one in four girls admitted stealing from a store within the past year. Moreover, 21 percent admitted they stole something from a parent or other relative, and 18 percent admitted stealing from a friend.

On lying, more than two in five said they sometimes lie to save money (48 percent of males and 35 percent of females). While 92 percent of students believe their parents want them to do the right thing, more than eight in ten confessed they lied to a parent about something significant.

Rampant cheating in school continuesA majority of students (59 percent) admitted cheating on a test during the last year, with 34 percent doing it more than two times. One in three admitted they used the Internet to plagiarize an assignment.

In its 2008 report on the relationship between un-ethical behavior in school and unethical behavior as adults, the Josephson Institute of Ethics reported:

Regardless of current age, people who cheated on exams in high school two or more times are considerably more likely to be dishonest later in life. Compared to those who never cheated, high school cheaters are:

Three times more likely to lie to a customer (20% vs. 6%) or inflate an insurance claim (6% vs. 2%) and more than twice as likely to inflate an expense claim (10% vs. 4%).

Twice as likely to lie to or deceive their boss (20% vs. 10%) or lie about their address to get a child into a better school (29% vs. 15%) and one-and-a-half times more likely to lie to spouse or significant other (35% vs. 22%) or cheat on taxes (18% vs. 13%).” [4]

 

5. The problem with Digital media and the human brain

It is a basic practice that when cognition is low, “educators” use behavioral science.

When the client or student is low on cognitive skills, the mediator employs a system of currency, the rewards, and coercions to get them to learn, conform, and cooperate with the desired behavior. The stickers on the refrigerator, the ice cream after the doctor appointment, the candy, the rewards cards, coupons, the new video game, material enticement, whatever shiny object to attract and hold up as an external currency. This is how animals are trained with treats, or affection for a good performance. This is the external reward under the control of the giver of the reward to define “success” or failure and keep the student on the leash.

In order to keep cognition low, planners continue to employ behavioral science. The human brain is an information processor. Information to process is received via the sensory systems of sight, sound, smell, balance, proprioception, taste, temperature, and pain and converted to representations in the brain. Sensory information (stimuli) must be transduced from the various forms of receptors into electrical, chemical and structural changes within the brain. This involves encoding, organization, elaboration and integration with previous experiences and memories that are stored all over the brain, nervous system and muscle. This takes time to create an accurate representation in a brain and to catalog it for appropriate recall, analysis and application of reasoned thought. Information processing in the human is an analog process, not a binary, digital one. [9]

When human sensory systems receive too much information, too rapidly, from too many sources, with too much change in scenes, volumes, colors, too many visuals, the systems cannot handle the volume of stimuli. This overwhelms the system and it resorts to the emotional, limbic, survival centers of the brain. This is the same default for preconditioned responses, fear conditioning, stimuli that the amygdala has associated with previously fearful, traumatic, or unpleasant experiences. The Midbrain, functions primarily on an emotional, fight, flight, fright, reactionary, and survival oriented level. This is not cerebral cognition. This is not rational, reasoning, or thoughtful response.

This is the level of Operant Conditioning. Trained impulse reflexive behaviors. Like Pavlov’s dogs, and Skinner’s Utopianists. Success means survival in “The Call of The Wild” and in government subsidized “education” for 21st-century labor force development.

“A government strong enough to act in defiance of public feeling may disregard…for it is able to punish. But a government entirely dependent on opinion looks for some security as to what that opinion shall be, strives for the control of the forces that shape it, and is fearful of suffering the people to be educated in sentiments hostile to its institutions.” ~ Lord Acton (1834-1902) Essays in the History of Liberty

6. Forging Shackles: The Master – Slave or Patron – Proselyte Paradigm

The consequences of operant conditioning go beyond the immediate reinforcements. A student who tests well, will be offered monetary rewards, scholarships, special considerations in placement and in turn become indebted to his patrons. This is the simple master-slave relationship. The relationship becomes one of obligation of servitude to identify with one’s patron in funding, master in academia and their ideologies.

A student who receives an academic or merit scholarship is psychologically under obligation and angst to perform well in his studies, rank high in testing, and carry on the creed, in order to continue to receive the monetary rewards, subsidies, approbation and favors.  

Often these relationships result in references for future professional positions in academia, research consortia, networks or related positions in the intelligentsia, bureaucracy, or influential laborforce. By this time, the recipient has long lost their individuality and the patrons know it. These well-trained proselytes, high-performance pleasers, become the fiercest defenders of their patrons, mentors, system and alma maters in which they excelled, received recognition, approbation, and identity. They will quite often demonstrate an obeisance, a worship of the patrons and masters who have forged their chains.

To accept money from another creates a relationship in which the recipient is the slave and the donor the master. The slave will continue to carry the baggage. 

7. Big Money in Test Prepping

Students in public schools spend over half their school days in preparation for accountability testing. Student Outcomes on testing determine funding, program continuation, teacher and administration employment. Now that vouchers have infected many private schools, they too, spend days on end prepping to pass the state and national tests to make the grade to continue voucher dollars. Prepping vendors market videos, on-line courses, private tutoring, extended courses, test prep study guides, etc.

Parents shell out millions (thousands per student) to purchase Junior all the possible advantages to score high on the college placement, industry, and digital badge tests. They pay thousands of dollars in prep and continue to pay for taking the same exams repeatedly to keep raising scores. Practice does not make perfect, but it does create permanence in conditioning the logic of the test. Those that invest dollars in prepping to give the desired answers often get rewarded with higher scores. Test scores are often used to award monetary scholarships, which again reinforces the notion that it takes money to get more money. This also reinforces the attitudes expressed in the Josephson Institute Ethics studies on why students are willing to lie, cheat and steal to get the high scores. And why so many go on to lie, cheat, and rationalize their unprincipled actions later in life. They’ve been ‘rewarded,’ conditioned to do so.

8. Academia reinforces the notion that there is No Absolute Truth.

In a survival oriented society of animals, the concept of moral absolutes, or absolute truth has little bearing. It is survival of the fittest, might makes right, the Darwinian dogma promoted by socialists that invaded campuses over a century ago.

Humanists (B.F. Skinner signed the Humanist Manifesto II) aligned with Marxist philosophies have labored toward creating a Utopia. They continue efforts to systematically transform humans to fit their idealized Utopian society.

The Academy for Systemic Change, promoting the utopian plans of MIT systems engineers, Peter Senge and Joe Hsueh, provides insightful systems maps to produce their “Effective Responsible Happy Citizens” goals. “The goal is to invest in various high-leverage points to the extent where the system tips to self-sustaining change processes.” [8]

Those key leverage points consist of: Peer Pressure Network Loops and Student Testing Outcomes.

In his book, The Fascist, His State, His Mind, E.B. Ashton points out that the Germans and Italians embraced fascism because the mindset of the people was such that they wanted it. Focusing on material goods, productivity, and prosperity as coordinated and distributed by the state, removed from the people the need to think. Citizens under Mussolini and Hitler’s National Socialist Workers (Nazi) Party, had only to do, to obey, to be “Effective Responsible Happy Citizens” just as the Academy for Systemic Change envisions for our citizens today.

The problem with conditioning citizens using awards, stickers, degrees of expertise and positions of authority in business and bureaucracy is that they eventually begin to believe they really are experts, above the law, above their fellow citizens, above God. This is what Chuck Colson said had allowed him to lie, cheat and steal during the 1970’s Watergate scandal and what the German Academics said allowed them to take the oath to the Nazi party. Their extensive education had taught them that they could rationalize away their principles, their faith, their consciences and convictions of right and just as defined by God.

[4] http://josephsoninstitute.org/surveys/

http://www.usnews.com/education/blogs/on-education/2008/12/02/cheating-on-the-rise-among-high-school-students

http://library.cqpress.com/cqresearcher/document.php?id=cqresrre2000092200

http://www.gtbe.org/uploads/images/files/Doing%20the%20Right%20Thing%20-%20for%20Public%20Schools(1).pdf

[8][Academy for Systemic Change Common Core State Standards Systems Map Version 2013.6.13]

[9] https://dawnkazmierzak.net/2016/09/08/the-digital-dictatorships-formation-of-mastered-minions-the-road-to-serfdom/

To be continued.

Dr. Dawn Kazmierzak has over twenty years in private practice Optometry. Academic stickers include majors in biology, neurobiology, neuroscience, visual science, doctorate of Optometry; post-graduate work for SUNY and West Point (USMC) in developmental and hospital-based Optometry; cognitive science Feuerstein trained in Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) and FIE (Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment). Having been transmitted a love of learning and commitment to discerning the truth from her parents, she and her husband labor to model this transmission to their daughter.

It was (and is), the anchors of faith in Christ and Biblical study that shielded Dawn from the operant conditioning that accompanies academic “successes.” These studies and stickers (degrees, certifications) were chosen in preparation for participation in third-world medical missions. If individuals lack the abilities to see, it is very difficult to teach themselves, grow in their faith, or provide for their families. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 This applies to physical, cognitive(mental) and spiritual ‘sight.’

You, as a homeschool parent, do not need all these stickers to transmit truth to and equip your child for their future; but, in her opinion, one does need a relationship with The Author, who defines what is true, right and just. Genesis 18:19. This relationship will provide all you need.

Blessings on your transmissions of your culture!

Testing, Assessments, Standards, Teaching Machines…The Science of Creating Obedient Citizens. Behavioral Science. Part 1

In this multi-part series, Dr. Dawn Kazmierzak reminds us of how and why Behavioral Science is applied in the education of the public. This series of posts also explains why Dawn and her husband have chosen privately-funded, parent-directed education for their daughter.

“Education is what survives when what has been learned has long been forgotten.” ~ B.F. Skinner, father of Operant Conditioning.

  1. Behavior modifies the Neural System.

The human brain is neuroplastic. It changes all the time. The mere act of seeing something, reading something, doing something, thinking about something or being emotionally engaged in something changes the brain itself. “The behavior modifies the neural system no less than the neural system directs the behavior.” *

Behavioral Science is the branch of psychology that specializes in studying behaviors and means of influencing, modifying, and controlling those behaviors. Behavioral Science is known to ply its trade on and through living things such as: animals, humans, communities, markets, cultures, herds, etc. as well as computers and artificial intelligence.

Behavioral Sciences utilizes tests, assessments, embedded formative assessments, computers, artificial intelligence, peer relations, group dynamics, ethical training, digital media, digital learning, public relations media, polls, social media, advertising etc. to ply its trade on its subjects. Behaviors are largely modified without subject consent.

Russian psychologist, Ivan Pavlov (1849-1936) is noted for his Classical Conditioning of dogs, often called Pavlovian Conditioning. Pavlov trained, (conditioned), dogs to salivate at the sound of a bell by associating the ringing of a bell each time the dogs were presented with food. The dogs associated the stimulus, the ringing bell, with the food so well, that eventually, they would salivate with only the ringing of the bell and no food presented. Their habit became reflexive, formed and embedded. The association of two stimuli to elicit a behavior is called “classical conditioning.” Classical conditioning is a form of learning. Cell phones are conditioning users ad nauseum these days. The general public resembles Alessandro Volta’s electrified frogs with each buzz, beep, jingle, flash or vibration of the conditioning cell phone.

American psychologist, Burrhus Frederic (B.F.) Skinner (1904-1990) took Pavlov’s work further. Skinner is known as the father of Operant Conditioning, the branch of Behaviorism that seeks to reinforce the desired behavior, action, or ideology, via the use of positive or negative consequences. Skinner designed tests, assessments, teaching machines, operant conditioning chambers, etc. using rewards for desired responses and punishment, “aversive stimulus,” for undesirable responses. (Or resistance to the desired behavior criteria: the logic or standards of the training experiment – the test.)

Skinner advanced the use of testing, assessment, “teaching machines” that would train human beings to the desired behaviors of his utopian society, which he wrote about in his novel entitled “Walden Two.” The methods espoused in Skinner’s novel are now known and employed as applied behavior **analysis (ABA). **Note the misleading word “analysis” which is, in fact, shaping the neural system, behaviors, attitudes, values and framework upon which future stimuli will be integrated and acted upon. Any test, assessment, media that stimulates any of the receptive sensory systems (auditory, visual, proprioceptive, olfactory, tactile, chemical, thermal, pain, vestibular) or engages cognition, thought, of the participant changes the subject himself.

   2. Rewards, Testing, Stickers, Grades, Degrees and Positive Reinforcement, Operant conditioning in the Brain – Yours, your child’s, your culture’s.

Learning happens every moment whether we are cognizant of it or not. We can experience active learning in which we are intentional about building brain pathways, encoding new information with previous experiences and organizing this input for future reference, rumination, pruning or reflexive reactions. Learning also happens passively, even when we are not focused, engaged and perceiving accurately nor being organized wisely.

Learning happens whether the information is true, accurate, beneficial, novel, interesting or in agreement with our personal convictions and faith. This is why education was to be administered by parents. Genesis 18:19 provides explicit details and intentions in establishing parents with the transmission of knowledge, beliefs and values to their children.

“For I have chosen him, so that he will direct his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just, so that the LORD will bring about for Abraham what He has promised.” ~ Genesis 18:19

This decree contains the four essentials for successful transmission of culture. The Source is God; the content is that which is right and just; the transmitter is the parent and the target is the child, and heirs.

Behavioral science has long yoked with political science to remove the parents from the education and transmission of culture to their heirs and to instead create a dependency on the government as being the “paternal state.”

When the education of the child became a taxpayer funded, government administrated entity, compulsory, and universal,- it removed the parents as being the transmitters of knowledge, values, and beliefs. It also sought to remove the responsibility of the parents to answer to God for successful transmission of what is right and just. The responsibility remains.

In the statist model, the parents were replaced with a Third-party payer system that had millions of payers, taxpayers, who demanded accountability for their assumed interests and returns on their third party payer investments.

Thus, enters the Operant Conditioning system of tests, assessments, teaching machines, social-emotional rewards and punishment based not upon the parents’ assigned content, but upon those of the administration, governors, planners, peer review, group consensus, investors, vendors, employees, and future employers of the infrastructure upon which the paternal government builds its power; and shapes public opinion.

So, in order to convince:

Parents- that junior is learning;

Taxpayers- that teachers are laboring;

Administrators- that teachers are intimidated and teaching to the test;

Employers- that workers (human capital) will be produced and productive;

Government- that taxes will be harvested;

Colleges and Universities- that academia will still produce proselytes;

and Politicians – that folks will be easily led …the Operant Conditioning reward system is employed on all levels. (How many reward cards do you have? How many regulated tax-deferred ‘savings’ accounts…ESA, FSA, HSA, 401 K, 529, IRA, SIMPLE, Roth etc. ….or non-profit tax deductible affiliations? How many degrees? Certifications? Guild memberships? Accreditations?)

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3. Tests used to Sort, Lane, verify conformity of proselytes, to assign stickers of state to wards of state.

Each time the politically “correct” answer is regurgitated in the class, on the quiz, on the test, on the “assessment,” on the computer…. the student gets a “good boy!” This desired response is positively reinforced via a hit of dopamine in the reward center of the brain, the nucleus accumbens. Consistently regurgitating the “correct” response results in more approbation: “You memorize well, Johnny….You are so smart! ….. We need to advance you to the Alpha class. …..You will go to college and manage other people. You may even run testing machines like I do.” Or “Johnny, you may be a scientist…or even a planner! Planners are above us managers. Keep giving the “right” answer, the one the planners want or you may just be a ‘worker.’”

Tests are used for embedding ideas, conformity, shaping predictable behaviors and for student sorting. Laning and sifting out which students perform well, meaning conform well and take orders well. These will be good for administrators in civil servant, bureaucracy positions. The use of digital media, computers with artificial intelligence with self-adapting algorithms makes Skinner’s dreams of “teaching machines” to upload Utopian mindsets a very present reality. The logic uploaded is not that of the Source, God, nor that of the parent, but rather the logic of the software. The software programmer embeds the logic of the governing authorities over him; whoever pays his wage dictates what is deemed as “correct,” politically correct.

Most of Socialist Europe employs classical education methods whose content is reinforced via high-pressure testing, sorting and laning for assigned positions within the socialist frameworks often called “republics.”

See the educational methods and mindset of Germany, Hungary, Austria, United Kingdom, Romania, Italy, Russia, Ukraine and China. Access, Placement, Advancement, lifework and societal rank are determined by test performance and evaluations at specific ages. These systems remove the need for the individual to think and self-direct. They are conditioned to only “do” as told, to fulfill their assigned role in the state. Germans know this as “Gleichschaltung,” the integration of man into the State. [ 7]

In the early to mid 20th century, parents from Europe and Asia sent their children to America for education. But, as American education duplicates the socialist mindset of these socialist nations, her education system is no longer one of excellence nor is it fit for those seeking to prepare their heirs for constitutional self-governance.

See articles from academics on the failure of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)’s Programme of International Student Assessment known as PISA exams, which entails over 60 countries and by Bruce G. Hammond on Chinese test takers– China and Testing Great Test Scores, Bad Schools: A Cautionary Tale From China .

If the student regurgitates the desired responses flawlessly they will get many “A’s,” the teacher will get good evaluations, the school will get its funding for successful operant conditioning, the student will get scholarships, Advanced Placement (AP) credits, approval from parents and family. The student will be called a ‘scholar’ and advance to the next round of testing and assessments conditioning him to do whatever it takes to pass the test, get the grade, get the neurochemical fix and sense of self-worth that is reinforced in these operations. Students learn to “give the system, the test, the teacher, what they want,” advance past “GO” collect the rewards and keep collecting the stickers, the currency, the prestige and the position – the ‘reward’.

[7] Milton Mayer in They Thought They Were Free, The Germans 1933-1945 https://dawnkazmierzak.net/2016/07/13/they-thought-they-were-free-the-germans-1933-1945/comment-page-1/#comment-97

To be continued.

Dr. Dawn Kazmierzak has over twenty years in private practice Optometry. Academic stickers include majors in biology, neurobiology, neuroscience, visual science, doctorate of Optometry; post-graduate work for SUNY and West Point (USMC) in developmental and hospital-based Optometry; cognitive science Feuerstein trained in Mediated Learning Experience (MLE) and FIE (Feuerstein Instrumental Enrichment). Having been transmitted a love of learning and commitment to discerning the truth from her parents, she and her husband labor to model this transmission to their daughter.

It was (and is), the anchors of faith in Christ and Biblical study that shielded Dawn from the operant conditioning that accompanies academic “successes.” These studies and stickers (degrees, certifications) were chosen in preparation for participation in third-world medical missions. If individuals lack the abilities to see, it is very difficult to teach themselves, grow in their faith, or provide for their families. “Where there is no vision, the people perish.” Proverbs 29:18 This applies to physical, cognitive(mental) and spiritual ‘sight.’

You, as a homeschool parent, do not need all these stickers to transmit truth to and equip your child for their future; but, in her opinion, one does need a relationship with The Author, who defines what is true, right and just. Genesis 18:19. This relationship will provide all you need.

Blessings on your transmissions of your culture!

Indiana Homeschoolers Should Reject ESAs

Since homeschooling became legal in Indiana, Hoosier homeschoolers have enjoyed very limited regulation. We’ve also accepted full financial responsibility for the operating costs of our own homeschools, even though that financial burden comes in addition to the income and property taxes that we pay to support Indiana’s public schools.

Back in 2011, the Indiana state legislature voted to allow homeschooling families a $1000-per-child tax deduction. This change came with no alteration to our freedoms, and no change to our involvement with governmental oversight.

But another change may be on the horizon, with greater consequences. According to a recent IAHE blog post, Maintaining the Integrity of Home Education, our state might soon be offering Education Savings Accounts, or ESAs, to homeschooling families. Read the linked article, to learn the function of ESAs and the inevitable changes to our freedom that would result from such contracts.

It’s important for all of us to ask two important questions before accepting such a sea change in how private, independent Indiana homeschools are funded! The first question is, “What is to be gained?” The second question is, “What is to be lost?” If ESAs become the norm for Indiana’s homeschooling families, I do not believe it will be a small change. Nor will it benefit us as much as it will benefit the state! I think this is potentially a very bad deal.

Look for “gift” to be accompanied by operant conditioning habits of mind altering “high-quality” assessments. BEWARE.

To use a biblical analogy, I’ve decided that ESAs may be a mess of pottage, and I don’t want to be Esau. (Genesis 25) Esau thought he couldn’t survive without a bowl of stew, so he traded his birthright, a legal contract guaranteeing his family’s inheritance, for lunch! He didn’t have to starve. He was a hunter, just home from the woods and fields. He was a man of the wild, who knew how to find food. But he failed to value what he had in the birthright. He despised it, the Scripture says, and gave it all away. Jacob, who would go on to become Israel, was still in his role as “deceiver” (which is what his name meant). He fooled his brother into trading something precious for something comparatively worthless.

If we take these ESAs, we may be making the same mistake as Esau. We think we can’t afford to homeschool, so if we can get some help with expenses for curriculum and materials, microscopes, computers, or classes, we’ll be able to afford home education. We want the free lunch because we can’t see how we’ll ever survive without it.

But here’s where the deceit comes in: Materials are not the big, insurmountable expense of homeschooling! The real reason we’re all worse off financially is that we’re all dealing with diminished income, if not the loss of an entire second income so that one parent can be home to supervise the children’s education.

No amount of government aid offered will ever make up for that. There will never be a handout large enough to level us all back up to the full-time, double-income lifestyle we chose to let go in order to prioritize our children’s education at home. The amounts offered in an ESA will cover material costs only. It is not true that ESAs will make anyone able to afford to homeschool.

So why would we take that offer? Why, when we’ll still need to live frugally and make sacrifices on less than two full-time incomes, and so much of the materials necessary for homeschooling can be cheap to free? Why would we take the money, when the money comes with strings?

The costs of an ESA are registration, data tracking, acknowledgment to the state that we don’t think we can do this alone, and worse, tacit admission that we think we benefit from (or are at least not harmed by) government oversight of our private family homeschools.

Those are very big costs.

I think if we consider the history of homeschooling, we’ll see that such a giant step backward is not a step we can afford! Indiana’s pioneering homeschoolers of the 1980s would be astounded to learn that we’d even consider giving up so much, in a single motion, for so little in return.

Homeschooling freedoms were hard-won by those parents of another generation. I believe it would be harder to win new freedoms now if we were to make a mistake and have to backtrack. A far better strategy would be to retain the freedoms we already have.

That first generation of homeschooling parents gave us another key, beyond holding the line for freedom: They showed us that we should network, and support each other. Our new style of homeschooling co-ops, with hired teachers and a school environment, do not provide the relationships and mentoring opportunities inherent in the support groups of old. Co-ops can be very expensive (costing thousands of dollars per family per year), causing homeschoolers to believe that homeschooling is an unaffordable venture.

We may need to go back to the old way, and start supporting each other for free again. Veteran homeschoolers can still teach the new homeschoolers how to find affordable materials, how to teach effectively, how to balance parenting and housework and school, how to raise families frugally…we have all of these experienced homeschoolers in Indiana, standing ready to help with friendship and advice. These relationships are a two-way street; many of our veteran homeschoolers are still going strong, teaching their youngest children at home, and we need the energy and enthusiasm of the younger families, as well.

IAHE has provided a network to help us all find each other, but it is under-utilized. Please consider contacting your IAHE regional representative to see how you can get involved with other local homeschooling families. If we need help and encouragement to take responsibility to homeschool within our budget, let us turn to one another and not to the state.

Let’s reject the bowl of pottage, and keep our birthright as Hoosier parents operating private, independent, free homeschools. We have done without ESAs and government oversight for many years, with great success. Our freedom to continue with independence is too precious to give away.

 

Amy Hopkins Raab is Mike’s wife and the mother of four sons. They’ve enjoyed homeschooling since 1999.The earlier years were more fun but the latter years have been the most rewarding, as the parents are watching the teens learn the way they wish they’d been taught: At home, surrounded by family and music and the best books, and with Christ as the center of all. Academic excellence is a primary focus of the Raab family homeschool, but true wisdom comes from God. (James 3:13-18)

Test v. Assessments

Indiana homeschoolers test their children regularly. Many are concerned about assessments. We’ve asked a veteran, professional educator, Mary Black, to explain why assessments are a concern to many who are informed about this issue.

The passage of No Child Left Behind brought about many regrettable changes to education.   One change rarely mentioned is the blurring of the distinction between tests and assessments. The distinction has in the last two decades become unknown and the two words are now used interchangeably.

A look at the definitions of each must precede a discussion of the purpose for this lack of clarity.

Beverly Eakman, a renowned writer on education, states in her book “Agenda Games” that the National Center for Educational Statistics (NCES) is an “un-American” department within the Department of Education whose purpose is to gather data on every student in the United States including the attitudes of each. Mrs. Eakman defines the difference between a test and assessment in the following statement.

It defines the difference between an assessment and a test. “An assessment is any systematic procedure for obtaining information from tests and other sources that can be used to draw inferences about characteristics of people, objects or programs.” … The aim is to assess psychological and political attitudes, to see who is swallowing the propaganda that passes for academics, and, more importantly, who is either waffling or “not buying.” If too many don’t “buy,” then curriculum is altered using a more heavy-handed approach.
http://www.thenewamerican.com/reviews/opinion/item/13044-federalized-progressive-education-marches-on

A Penn State University tutorial website gives the following definitions of a test and assessment.

A test or quiz is used to examine someone’s knowledge of something to determine what he or she knows or has learned. Testing measures the level of skill or knowledge that has been reached.

Assessment is the process of documenting knowledge, skills, attitudes and beliefs, usually in measurable terms. The goal of assessment is to make improvements, as opposed to simply being judged. In an educational context, assessment is the process of describing, collecting, recording, scoring, and interpreting information about learning.

At Work For You

The psychological, behavioral nature of assessments should be clearly understood as distinct from academically based tests. Many states require homeschool students to take at intervals standardized “tests” or the state “test.”   These are not tests, they are assessments designed to gather data about all students including homeschool students. The term P20W refers to the plan to collect data on every child from preschool to the workforce. Development of Statewide Longitudinal Data Systems (SLDS) are required by federal law (ESSA) with the long-term plan to link all 50 states to a pipeline to the NCES (perhaps) that is offering grants to states to develop a SLDS that gathers all the required points of data. The Indiana SLDS is known by the name of Indiana Network of Knowledge.

To fully comprehend the influence of behavioral science in assessments and curriculum (including some online curriculums), one should study the 21st Century Competencies Chart on p. 7 of the USDOE’s document “Promoting Grit, Tenacity, and Perseverance” (February, 2013). The chart shows three types of competencies – cognitive, intrapersonal, and interpersonal. The word competent implies mediocrity and two of the three categories on this chart are behavioral in nature.   Movement to social and emotional learning (SEL) is based on this document. SEL can only be measured by assessments.

Behavioral science was introduced to education by John Dewey who was influenced by what he observed in Russia and others including Lev Vygotsky, a Russian psychologist. Vygotsky’s work became the basis of research and theory in cognitive development over the last few decades, now known as Social Development Theory. Vygotsky’s “More Knowledgeable Other”(MKO) and “Zone of Proximal Development” or scaffolding are based on his belief that important learning occurs through social interaction with a skillful tutor or MKO, who is not necessarily an adult but likely a peer. Scaffolding involves an MKO first modeling a concept while the children watch.   When the students are deemed capable, the MKO allows the children to help. The last step of scaffolding is allowing the children to do the work while the MKO watches. The purpose of scaffolding is to be certain that the child will give the same response to the stimuli before the scaffolding provided by MKO is removed. Scaffolding incorporates Vygotsky’s Zone of Proximal Development that identifies three zones of a learner – Unable to do the task, Able to do the task with help, and Able to do the task independently. This necessarily diminishes the role of MKO and embellishes peer learning.   Assessments are the only means to be certain that the process of scaffolding does not need to be repeated. Sadly, Vygotsky’s fingerprints are all over the Common Core State Standards and the curriculum designed to meet them.

The point of the inclusion of behavioral science in the process of education is to leave the student indoctrinated and only capable of following (dependent) rather than a leader who is capable of thinking for himself/herself in a reasonable not an emotional manner. As homeschoolers, we have the opportunity to form the latter rather than the former by avoiding curriculums and assessments based on behavioral science.

 

Mrs. Mary Black earned her B.A. in elementary education from Marian College. She taught for 36 years in Parochial, public, and private schools as well as homeschooling her own children. Mrs. Black’s teaching experience spans from Kindergarten through 12thgrade inclusive and includes three years in a life skills classroom.

After her retirement from the classroom in 2010, Mrs. Black joined FreedomProject Academy as Curriculum Director and was instrumental in developing the FPA curriculum at all levels. Recently retired after 42 years from the daily responsibilities of working with parents, teachers, and students, Mrs. Black is currently writing a 4th grade Arithmetic textbook after completing the arithmetic workbooks for K through 3 grade.

Very early in the discussion of Common Core, she began to alert others of its potential danger to students and local control of schools. Mrs. Black’s extensive research and thorough understanding of all aspects of Common Core has made her one of America’s foremost authorities.